Ostensibly the HTC Rhyme has an easy to use and feature rich interface. It uses Android 2.3.4 at its core so it benefits from the excellent basic features that operating system has – when it comes to web browsing, email, texting, making calls, and all such basics, it’s a cinch to use, if a little geeky at times. You’ve also got the huge selection of apps available in the Android Market and the knowledge that you can go about replacing many key components of the interface – such as keyboards – to suit your preference.
However, HTC couldn’t help but have a good old muck about with the styling, and some of the functionality, by giving it what the company calls its HTC Sense interface. And, while some of the changes are welcome, there’s also plenty that we’re not so keen on.
Starting with the good stuff, though, we like the lock screen that allows you to jump straight into your choice of app by dragging the icon into the circle. This is particularly useful for calling up the camera app as quickly as possible.
Get to the home screen and you’re greeted by a very elegant looking wallpaper and arrangement of icons, with four widgets in a column on the left, a clock display on the right, and main menu and dialler buttons in the bottom left and right corners. Indeed, navigate around much of the device and the same muted grey elegance has been sprinkled throughout.
HTCs long standing adaptation of the dialler and contacts system is also welcome. This overlays the dialler on the list of contacts allowing you to just grab the contacts and start scrolling through them or if you start typing a name or number it will shorten the list of matching names until you’re left with just one at the top. This sort of ‘smart dialler’ is quite a common feature on Android devices but it’s particularly well presented here. Social networking information is also very well integrated into your contacts list so you can quickly and easily see all your messages and emails with a contact, what updates they’ve posted and photos they’ve shared.
Drop down the notifications bar from the top and you’ve got quick access to useful features like Volume and switching to Airplane mode.
When it comes to the bad stuff, though, some of it is particularly annoying. Chief among these is the home screen carousel. This activates when you flick quickly between the seven widget- and app-filled home screens, whereupon it proceeds to zoom out and spin all the home screens round at high speed. While visually impressive, it’s also incredibly irritating as it makes simply swiping at pace from one home screen to the next a real bind.
Next up is the main menu which has been vertically paginated, i.e. you scroll through it vertically but rather than one long flowing list, it’s broken into pages. This irritates as you can’t just casually scroll through the list at a leisurely pace but must constantly flick up and down with intent – it’s just unintuitive.
Our final gripe with HTC Sense is the keyboard, which we find a bit too visually fussy and swaps the conventional placing of the special character key for the hide keyboard button (a useful button, but not a useful placement), making it less easy to effortlessly type.
You can get round some of these irritations – such as by installing a new keyboard – but you really shouldn’t have to when this is supposed to be a lifestyle device.
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